Cammalleri can finally call Manchester home

For the first time in three years, Manchester Monarchs center Michael Cammalleri can call Manchester home and it seems to agree with him. Cammalleri leads the American Hockey League in goals scored and is second only to Binghamton Senators center Jason Spezza in overall scoring.

The first two years of his professional career, Cammalleri shuffled between Manchester and the Los Angeles Kings, who selected him in the second round (49th overall) in the 2001 NHL Entry Draft, practically living out of a hotel the entire time. This is the first year that he has been able to get an apartment and relax with his teammates.

“This season is a different demographic with the lockout,” said Cammalleri. “I don’t have to worry about call-ups and being sent down. It’s nice to be in one place, make a home, hang out with the guys and build relationships.”

The 22-year-old native of Richmond Hill, Ont., is having the best year of his career. After 73 games, he has 43 goals, 59 assists and 102 points with six games remaining on the Monarchs’ schedule. He was also named a starter for the Canadian team at the 2005 Dodge AHL All-Star Classic, held at the Verizon Wireless Arena in Manchester.

“It was great to be part of the event,” said Cammalleri. “It definitely meant more to me to participate in the All-Star Classic in front of my fans that have supported me all year.”

Cammalleri has given Monarchs fans a reason to cheer him on. He is breaking franchise records left and right. Cammalleri is the Monarchs’ new single-season leader in goals (43), assists (59), points (102) and power play goals (17). He has also surpassed former Monarchs right wing Pavel Rosa to take the lead in the Monarchs all-time goals scored category with 68, and he holds the all-time career record for power play goals (22) as a Monarchs player.

Cammalleri, with 161 points (68g, 93a), is four points from taking over the No. 1 spot on the Monarchs all-time points list, currently held by former Monarchs center Steve Kelly with 164 points (50g, 114a) in 162 games.

Some hockey players, like Rosa, do not like to look at standings and statistics during the season, but Cammalleri is up-to-date on what’s going on. Still he is not too worried about the race to finish as the league’s leading scorer.

“I pay attention to what’s going on, but the most important thing is the team standings, winning hockey games and earning two points,” said Cammalleri.

Surprisingly, it was not until this week that Cammalleri learned of the franchise records he has broken.

“I had no idea,” he expressed. “It’s a great honor to have my name up next to great hockey players like Rosa and Kelly and (Eric) Healey in the record books.”

The Monarchs look to finish out the 2004-05 season on a strong note and then have a good run in the playoffs. Cammalleri has made Manchester his home for the last seven months and is not planning on packing up for the summer for quite some time.